Allan McDougall and Karen Baxter know as much about smoked seafood as Michael Schumacher knows racing Formula 1 motor racing, with both of them having been working in the food and drink industry for most of their lives, including for Argyll’s famed Loch Fyne Oysters: this couple bleed seawater.

But it wasn’t until just over a year ago that they threw in their hooks and rods and launched their own business – The Argyll Smokery. It has proved to be an inspired decision.

Using old West Highland smoking techniques, The Argyll Smokery offers a portfolio of smoked seafood products that covers everything from traditional smoked salmon and trout through to homemade fish pates, mussels, prawns and scallops. It’s a top quality range; something that has not gone unnoticed by leading retailers, caterers and foodservice companies, including such blue-chip names as Peckham’s, and Waitrose.

Based in Dunoon, on the picturesque Cowal peninsula, near to the shores of the Holy Loch and the famous River Clyde on the West Coast of Scotland, The Argyll Smokery serve discerning customers throughout Scotland and the north of England with small handcrafted batches of succulent smoked foods. Moreover, supplying many quality hotels,
restaurants, delis and farm shops, as well as many dedicated ‘foodies’ via its home delivery mail order service, the company’s first year in business (it began trading in March 2011) saw it winning a Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) New Business Start Up Award, hot on the heels of three 2-star Gold awards in the UK-wide Great Taste Awards.
And of course, as already mentioned, perhaps the most quality-led multiple retailer in the UK, Waitrose, has also recognised The Argyll Smokery’s exceptional quality and value. Indeed, the company’s kiln roasted salmon has proved so popular with Waitrose shoppers that it is now supplying three of the retailer’s Scottish stores.

Karen and Allan won their original contract to supply Waitrose through a Scotland Food & Drink ‘Meet the Buyer’ event where producers pitch to buyers in a Dragons’ Den style format. Happily for the Argyll Smokery, no-one from Waitrose even considered saying those infamous words ‘I’m out’, with Oliver O’Mara of the Local and Regional sourcing team for Waitrose explaining that they’re always interested in discovering new, exciting producers with mouth-watering products: “The Argyll Smokery is the kind of supplier we love to work with: hand-crafted and produced with passion, using the finest natural ingredients; and most importantly, their smoked fish is wonderfully succulent and delicious.”

There’s still plenty of growth to be had for The Argyll Smokery … although not too much, as Allan McDougall explains, “We are currently creating a website and online shop, and will be looking to expand in a small way, with capacity rising by a third. However, we are not seeking to grow simply for the sake of it; staying smaller helps us to retain the quality.”

At the present time Allan and Karen manage all aspects of the business themselves: in a typical day they will hot smoke the fish, slice and pack it, dispatch, deliver and market their products. In the not too distant future, though, they will look to attract a few key staff, which may even allow them to take a day off occasionally!
But it is hard work in tandem with a great line of products that has put The Argyll Smokery where it is today – one of the most respected and sought suppliers of superior, high-value smoked seafood in the UK. To find out more, telephone 01369 705286. Or you can find them on the web at

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